Even those who were happy to see the Hodgman government returned to power at the recent election must (or at least should) have felt some sense of disquiet about the immediate announcement that they would be tripling the budget of a lobby group that had fought so vociferously to get the government re-elected.
Perhaps wisely, given how much attention it would have drawn during the election, the government waited until it was safely returned to announce millions of dollars in extra funding to the Tasmanian Hospitality Association, replenishing their coffers after an expensive election campaign. But it is still a terrible look.
That a government should treat their electorate with such disdain should not be considered wise. If voters paid attention it should be political suicide to wait until after an election to reveal controversial policies. IF voters paid attention, that is. Unfortunately, the Tasmanian people showed how easily their fears could be exploited, rewarding the Liberals for a negative campaign against their opponents.
In doing so, they have set a worrying precedent. The bar set for the Hodgman government is now alarmingly low. Knowing that their attack strategy works, the Liberals need not do any better than they did in their previous term. There is little incentive for them to tackle difficult issues of housing, our health sector or congestion.
Aside from my disappointment in our low expectations, I am also moved to ask what is it that the Tasmanian Hospitality Association actually does and why does it need its budget tripled?
Having systematically ignored and misrepresented research and evidence on the impact of poker machines, it doesn’t appear they are interested in research, so the additional millions can't be for that. It is also hard to make the argument that they are short of cash under their previous funding model, as they demonstrably had no shortage of money to spend on their ironically titled Support Your Local campaign.
You can tell me there is an above board explanation for this, but I will struggle to believe it. Put simply, it is disgusting. and the fact that the Liberals think we are so numbed to this kind of shadowy cronyism is even more maddening than the policy itself.